Chile wildfires: Conspiracy theorists claim blue paint can save homes

As wildfires ravaged central Chile, a number of posts have been circulating online claiming that buildings or objects painted blue are immune to the fires. Why? Well, these accounts claim the fires were actually set by powerful lasers that don’t work on anything colored blue. These claims are baseless. 

If you only have a minute…

  • A series of wildfires have been devastating the region of Valparaiso, Chile throughout February 2024. A number of posts have been circulating online claiming that buildings and objects painted blue have miraculously resisted the flames. Some of these posts claim that Chileans are starting to paint their homes and roofs blue to protect them.
  • These claims are based on a well-worn conspiracy theory that wildfires are actually caused by “directed energy weapons”, essentially focused energy or lasers that cause damage. According to these conspiracy theories, the lasers leave blue objects intact.
  • However, these images don’t prove anything. While they do show several blue structures intact, there are also buildings of other colours that are intact, too. The video showing a man painting his roof blue shows someone who already believes the theory.
  • A number of experts have said that both a heat wave and drought played a role in the spate of wildfires in Chile. However, investigations into potential arson are also underway.

The fact check, in detail

A number of social media accounts have been tracking any time that the colour blue appears in footage and photos of the devastation caused by wildfires in Valparaiso, Chile. Why? These people believe that the wildfires, which have resulted in mass damages and the deaths of at least 130 people, spared objects painted this colour. Why again? Because they believe that these fires were set by targeted lasers called directed energy weapons, which apparently don’t work on anything coloured blue.

An English-speaking TikTok user made this claim in a video published on February 9. Pointing out a small blue home in the midst of charred ruins, he says: “The house was barely touched. Everything around it: demolished, burned to ashes.”

“But somehow it managed to stand still”, he continues, before showing a video where you see a laser burning different fabric but sparing one coloured blue. 

This user has actually picked up footage from a Spanish-language TikTok account, published two days earlier. The footage was geolocated in Vina del Mar, an area that was indeed affected by the fires.

“Is the blue house theory true?” this user asks.

This theory is mentioned in other posts, as well – like this video posted on X (formerly Twitter) by another English-speaking account. It shows another building, also painted blue, that was spared by the flames, in the midst of other charred structures. The caption reads “Chile. Blue colour again. #DEW #DirectEnergyWeapon.”


This English-speaking Twitter user, who posted his tweet on February 8, believes that the fact that certain buildings painted blue survived the wildfires is proof that “direct energy weapons” were involved. © X (formerly Twitter)

The acronym “DEW” appears in a French tweet that copies a tweet in English that has garnered more than 11 million views. Both tweets include a video of a man painting his home bright blue. 

“People in Chile are now reportedly painting their houses & roofs in particular the colour blue in order to protect themselves from DEWs,” the post in French says. The sentence in the English-language post is the same, except for its reference to DEWs. 

The French tweet also includes the video showing a laser burning through several fabrics – except the one in blue.

This post from February 12 explains why people have honed in on the blue objects and buildings spared from the wildfire’s wrath. This colour apparently protects from “directed energy weapons”, which they believe are responsible for the fires. They claim that Chileans are starting to paint their homes this colour.
This post from February 12 explains why people have honed in on the blue objects and buildings spared from the wildfire’s wrath. This colour apparently protects from “directed energy weapons”, which they believe are responsible for the fires. They claim that Chileans are starting to paint their homes this colour. © X (formerly Twitter)

There has long been a conspiracy theory that governments or other influential bodies are responsible for starting wildfires using these “directed energy weapons”. 

These weapons are real – they use highly focused energy including lasers, microwaves, particle beams and sound beams to damage their target or destroy electronic systems. But there is no proof that directed energy weapons were ever used against civilian populations or to ignite wildfires.

‘These aren’t anomalies, it just depends how the fire progresses’ 

While the theory put forward by these posts seems unfounded, then what could be the reason that these blue buildings and objects have mysteriously been spared by fire? Adherents of this conspiracy theory refer to these objects as “blue anomalies”.

This X account (formerly Twitter) points to an object that seems to be made out of blue plastic, which remains intact right next to a charred car. They say this is an example of a “blue anomaly”.
This X account (formerly Twitter) points to an object that seems to be made out of blue plastic, which remains intact right next to a charred car. They say this is an example of a “blue anomaly”. © X (formely Twitter)

Éric Brocardi, the spokesperson for the National Federation of Firefighters in France, there is nothing surprising about these images. 

“These aren’t anomalies, it just depends how the fire progresses,” he said after studying the images. 

“The main explanations are the way the fire has spread and the direction that the wind is blowing, which can end up sheltering certain objects. In the French region of Gironde, for example, there was a fire around Arcachon Bay in July 2022. We had what is called a crown fire: in certain places, the crowns of the trees burned, but not the branches below.”

Firefighters believe that the presence of violent winds during the fires contributed to their spread. 

Paul Sirvatka is a professor of meteorology at the College of Dupage, an American institute of higher education. He also says there is nothing unusual about this type of phenomena. 

“Because of the mechanisms of propagation, primarily embers and wind, the patterns formed by fire as it spreads can be intricate and complex,” he said. “We call this a mosaic pattern.”

On this image, taken from a training exercise in meteorology on the specialised site MetEd, we can see a fire that completely burned certain zones of the forest and spared others. Sometimes the fire left narrow areas unscathed because of a change in wind direction and the way that embers spread
On this image, taken from a training exercise in meteorology on the specialised site MetEd, we can see a fire that completely burned certain zones of the forest and spared others. Sometimes the fire left narrow areas unscathed because of a change in wind direction and the way that embers spread © MetEd/Brent Wachter

In the images shared by accounts focused on the preservation of blue objects, we can quickly see that objects of different colours have also been spared. For example, the vegetation near the blue structures is also intact, which makes it seem more likely that the entire zone escaped the flames – perhaps because of the intervention of the fire department. 

This video shared on TikTok shows a blue house intact in the midst of the ruins. However, you can see that the concrete wall and fence near the blue house also don’t have any fire damage. You can also see that the wooden telephone poles are intact, as is vegetation near the house.
This video shared on TikTok shows a blue house intact in the midst of the ruins. However, you can see that the concrete wall and fence near the blue house also don’t have any fire damage. You can also see that the wooden telephone poles are intact, as is vegetation near the house. © Observers

In this video, shared on Twitter, you can see that it is not just the blue object that was spared by the fire, even though that’s what viewers focused on. For example, a truck, a wooden door and some kind of structure made out of concrete and painted yellow were also spared.
In this video, shared on Twitter, you can see that it is not just the blue object that was spared by the fire, even though that’s what viewers focused on. For example, a truck, a wooden door and some kind of structure made out of concrete and painted yellow were also spared. © Observers

Video shared by someone who has already fallen for this theory

How about the video where you can see a man painting his roof blue? Does it show locals suddenly painting their roofs blue in order to escape the ravages of the fire, as some of these accounts have claimed?

For this Twitter user, who often shares misinformation, this video posted on February 12 shows that people living in areas affected by the fire are suddenly painting the roofs of their houses blue.
For this Twitter user, who often shares misinformation, this video posted on February 12 shows that people living in areas affected by the fire are suddenly painting the roofs of their houses blue. © X (formely Twitter)

In reality, that’s not really what the video shows. The video was first posted on February 9 by the TikTok account @eduarjoselugo. The man who posted this footage remains vague about why he is repainting his roof in the post itself. 

“Here, we are painting the roof of my house blue, blue like the sky… […] Bad things don’t touch things that are blue, because blue is connected to God,” he says. 

However, by looking at other posts on the same account, we quickly realise that this man believes the conspiracy theory that directed energy weapons are behind the fires in Chile.

In another video, he shares an audio excerpt that links the preservation of blue-coloured objects during the fires to the “first phase of project Blue Beam”. Apparently, this led to “worrying rumours about alleged laser attacks”. 

Project Blue Beam is another conspiracy theory about governments using lasers and holograms. We’ve written about this theory before in a previous article (in French).

This video doesn’t actually prove that many Chileans believe that directed energy weapons are responsible for the fires and are trying to save their homes by painting them blue. In actuality, this video shows one man who already believes the theory. 

One thing to note: there is a link between belief in the use of directed energy weapons and climate change denial. 

Conspiracy theories that have blamed directed energy weapons for various disasters are not new. Many believe they began in the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2001.

These theories have popped up again recently each time there is a particularly destructive forest fire. Various accounts started spreading these rumours during fires that swept Canada in June 2023 or the terrible fires in Hawaii in August of the same year.

Read moreWatch out for these images fuelling a conspiracy theory about the Hawaii wildfires

In these two cases, believers in the theory about directed energy weapons used this to deny any link between the fires and climate breakdown, even though this link is well-established by the scientific community.

In the case of the fires in Chile, believers in the directed energy weapons theory also deny the role of climate breakdown. In response to a video showing devastation in Chile that highlights the importance of fighting against climate breakdown, a believer drew a link with the Hawaii fires and said that “DEWs” were responsible for both. 

“And once again, the globalist monsters behind the deliberate and entirely man-made attack on humanity and planet, claim ‘climate change,’” this user wrote. 

“And once again, the globalist  monsters behind the deliberate and entirely man made attack on humanity and planet, claim ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ to further their BS ‘sustainable living’, ‘zero carbon emissions’ and of course their ever ravenous, land grabbing agendas,” this user wrote on Facebook on February 11 in response to a video that highlighted the link between the fires in Chile and global warming.
“And once again, the globalist monsters behind the deliberate and entirely man made attack on humanity and planet, claim ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ to further their BS ‘sustainable living’, ‘zero carbon emissions’ and of course their ever ravenous, land grabbing agendas,” this user wrote on Facebook on February 11 in response to a video that highlighted the link between the fires in Chile and global warming. © Facebook

However, there is evidence for the role of climate change in these fires. Scientists have indicated that a serious heatwave in Chile, a long drought and the El Nino phenomenon all played a role. There are, however, investigations underway to determine if some fires were set with criminal intent – there are apparently some indications that flammable products were used in certain locations. 



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We can tackle climate change, jobs, growth and global trade. Here’s what’s stopping us

We must leave behind established modes of thinking and seek creative workable solutions.

Another tumultuous year has confirmed that the global economy is at a turning point. We face four big challenges: the climate transition; the good-jobs problem; an economic-development crisis, and the search for a newer, healthier form of globalization.

To address each, we must leave behind established modes of thinking and seek creative workable solutions, while recognizing that these efforts will be necessarily uncoordinated and experimental.

Climate change is the most daunting challenge, and the one that has been overlooked the longest — at great cost. If we are to avoid condemning humanity to a dystopian future, we must act fast to decarbonize the global economy. We have long known that we must wean ourselves from fossil fuels, develop green alternatives and shore up our defenses against the lasting environmental damage that past inaction has already caused. However, it has become clear that little of this is likely to be achieved through global cooperation or economists’ favored policies.

Instead, individual countries will forge ahead with their own green agendas, implementing policies that best account for their specific political constraints, as the United States, China and the European Union have been doing. The result will be a hodge-podge of emission caps, tax incentives, research and development support, and green industrial policies with little global coherence and occasional costs for other countries. Messy though it may be, an uncoordinated push for climate action may be the best we can realistically hope for.

Inequality, the erosion of the middle class, and labor-market polarization have caused significant damage to our social environment.

But our physical environment is not the only threat we face. Inequality, the erosion of the middle class, and labor-market polarization have caused equally significant damage to our social environment. The consequences are now widely evident. Economic, regional, and cultural gaps within countries are widening, and liberal democracy (and the values that support it) appears to be in decline, reflecting rising support for xenophobic, authoritarian populists and the growing backlash against scientific and technical expertise.

Social transfers and the welfare state can help, but what is most needed is an increase in the supply of good jobs for the less-educated workers who have lost access to them. We need more productive, well-remunerated employment opportunities that can provide dignity and social recognition for those without a college degree. Expanding the supply of such jobs will require not only more investment in education and more robust defense of workers’ rights, but also a new brand of industrial policies for services, where the bulk of future employment will be created.

The disappearance of manufacturing jobs over time reflects both greater automation and stronger global competition. Developing countries have not been immune to either factor. Many have experienced “premature de-industrialization”: their absorption of workers into formal, productive manufacturing firms is now very limited, which means they are precluded from pursuing the kind of export-oriented development strategy that has been so effective in East Asia and a few other countries. Together with the climate challenge, this crisis of growth strategies in low-income countries calls for an entirely new development model.

Governments will have to experiment, combining investment in the green transition with productivity enhancements in labor-absorbing services.

As in the advanced economies, services will be low- and middle-income countries’ main source of employment creation. But most services in these economies are dominated by very small, informal enterprises — often sole proprietorships — and there are essentially no ready-made models of service-led development to emulate. Governments will have to experiment, combining investment in the green transition with productivity enhancements in labor-absorbing services.

Finally, globalization itself must be reinvented. The post-1990 hyper-globalization model has been overtaken by the rise of U.S.-China geopolitical competition, and by the higher priority placed on domestic social, economic, public-health, and environmental concerns. No longer fit for purpose, globalization as we know it will have to be replaced by a new understanding that rebalances national needs and the requirements of a healthy global economy that facilitates international trade and long-term foreign investment.

Most likely, the new globalization model will be less intrusive, acknowledging the needs of all countries (not just major powers) that want greater policy flexibility to address domestic challenges and national-security imperatives. One possibility is that the U.S. or China will take an overly expansive view of its security needs, seeking global primacy (in the U.S. case) or regional domination (China). The result would be a “weaponization” of economic interdependence and significant economic decoupling, with trade and investment treated as a zero-sum game.

The biggest gift major powers can give to the world economy is to manage their own domestic economies well.

But there could also be a more favorable scenario in which both powers keep their geopolitical ambitions in check, recognizing that their competing economic goals are better served through accommodation and cooperation. This scenario might serve the global economy well, even if — or perhaps because — it falls short of hyper-globalization. As the Bretton Woods era showed, a significant expansion of global trade and investment is compatible with a thin model of globalization, wherein countries retain considerable policy autonomy with which to foster social cohesion and economic growth at home. The biggest gift major powers can give to the world economy is to manage their own domestic economies well.

All these challenges call for new ideas and frameworks. We do not need to throw conventional economics out the window. But to remain relevant, economists must learn to apply the tools of their trade to the objectives and constraints of the day. They will have to be open to experimentation, and sympathetic if governments engage in actions that do not conform to the playbooks of the past.

Dani Rodrik, professor of international political economy at Harvard Kennedy School, is president of the International Economic Association and the author of Straight Talk on Trade: Ideas for a Sane World Economy (Princeton University Press, 2017).

This commentary was published with the permission of Project Syndicate — Confronting Our Four Biggest Economic Challenges

More: Biden administration’s antitrust victories are much-needed wins for consumers

Also read: ‘Dr. Doom’ Nouriel Roubini: ‘Worst-case scenarios appear to be the least likely.’ For now.

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Heat records and climate accords: How did the environment fare in 2023?

From drought in Spain to floods in the Horn of Africa and wildfires in Canada, 2023 was marked by some alarming environmental disasters. However, it wasn’t all bad news – the past few months have seen some significant advances in the fight against climate change.

The hottest year in history

It was hot this year, sometimes very hot – temperatures reached 53°C in Death Valley in the United States, 55°C in Tunisia, and 52°C in China

Even after summer, the mercury did not drop to regular levels with September, October and November all experiencing unusually warm temperatures. The news everyone anticipated finally came in early December: 2023 was the hottest year in recorded history.

For the period from January to November, the average global surface temperature was 1.46°C above the pre-industrial era. It was also 0.13°C above the average of the previous hottest year, 2016. The combined effects of the El Nino climate phenomenon in the Pacific and climate change are to blame.

Oceans suffered from extreme heat

The heat was not confined to land; the planet’s oceans also experienced frighteningly high temperatures. March, April, May, June, July, August, September and October all recorded their hottest maritime temperatures ever.

On July 30, the average global ocean surface temperature reached an unprecedented 20.96°C, according to the European climate monitoring service, the Copernicus Institute. Just a month later, the Mediterranean Sea set its daily heat record, with a median temperature of 28.71°C, according to the main Spanish maritime research centre.

Read moreWorld’s oceans set new temperature record, EU data says

These repeated new records indicate an increasing frequency of marine heatwaves, something that could have dramatic impacts on biodiversity.

Both poles melting at rapid rates

In February, towards the end of the summer in the southern hemisphere, the Antarctic ice sheet reached an alarmingly low level before growing back at an unusually slow pace over the winter.

The ice sheet’s surface in September was 16.96 million km2, the lowest sea ice maximum since measurements began by a wide margin, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)

At the other end of the globe, the Arctic experienced its warmest summer on record, with an average temperature of 6.4°C. Both regions are affected by the “polar amplification” phenomenon which mean they warm faster than lower latitudes, partly due to the melting of the ice sheet and ocean warming.

Long periods of drought

The year was also marked by a series of severe droughts. France, for instance, recorded no significant rainfall for the 32 consecutive days between January 21 and February 21 – “the longest period since records began in 1959”, according to the Copernicus Institute.

In Spain, parts of the population had to deal with a lack of rain for more than 100 days, sparking frustration and raising tensions with neighbouring Portugal over water use.

The European Union was far from the only affected territory. In early June, Iran warned that 97% of the country lacked water due to a lack of rain. A historic drought that has had serious consequences for agriculture since 2020 continued in the Horn of Africa.

Unprecedented wildfires

With drought comes fire. Some 6,400 fires burned 18.5 million hectares of Canada’s famous forests – more than twice the previous record of 7.6 million hectares set in 1989 – giving the country its worst fire season ever recorded.

Images of an orange and apocalyptic New York skyline went viral after smoke from the Canadian wildfires made its way south, polluting air and disrupting traffic.

The Statue of Liberty is covered in haze and smoke caused by wildfires in Canada, in New York on June 6, 2023. © Amr Alfiky, Reuters

Across the Atlantic, thousands of tourists had to be evacuated from the Greek island of Rhodes due to forest fires in what was the European country’s largest evacuation operation ever.

Rains intensify

Episodes of drought were followed by intense rains, often causing floods. In early August, a month’s worth of rain fell in less than 24 hours in Slovenia, killing three people and causing an estimated €500 million of damage.

In the Horn of Africa too, drought gave way to torrential rains, killing more than 300 and displacing two million people, according to the UN. 

In Libya, several thousand people died, and tens of thousands were displaced due to floods in the eastern part of the country.

Serious flooding also occurred in the United States, Japan, Nepal, China, and even France, which experienced historic autumn rainfall in the Pas-de-Calais region.

Fossil fuels mentioned in a COP final text

For the first time, a United Nations Climate Conference (COP) – held in early December in Dubai – concluded with a text calling for a “transition away” from the primary driver of climate change, fossil fuels. 

However, the text has been criticised for its many shortcomings by environmental NGOs and activists, notably for favouring carbon capture technologies and presenting gas as a “transitional energy”. 

Renewable energies made headway

Renewable energies advanced at full speed in 2023. Mainly driven by solar and new photovoltaic capacities, renewable energies are expected to produce 4,500 GW of power in 2024, equivalent to the combined electrical production of the United States and China, according to a report by the International Energy Agency.

In the EU, this momentum is expected to be boosted by a new “Renewable Energy Directive” which set a binding target of achieving 42.5% renewable energy by 2030, compared to the current 22%. Following COP28, EU member states also committed to tripling the production of renewable energy.

An EU law on nature restoration and biodiversity

There was also good news for forests, meadows, lakes, rivers, and corals. After months of tension and hours of negotiations, the European Parliament and EU states reached an agreement in November on a nature restoration bill. The stated goal is to restore 20% of the EU’s land and seas by 2030, and all degraded ecosystems by 2050 – representing 80% of total natural habitats.

Watch moreMeeting Dr Jane Goodall: A global champion for the environment

While the text is less ambitious than it was originally supposed to be, especially regarding restoration obligations for agricultural land, it raised hopes at a time of grave biodiversity loss.

The first treaty on the protection of international waters

After 15 years of discussions, in June, the UN officially adopted the High Seas Treaty, a first of its kind aimed at protecting international waters and preserving marine life.

International waters begin where the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of states end – up to a maximum of 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coasts – and are therefore not under the jurisdiction of any state. Although they constitute nearly half of the planet and more than 60% of the oceans, international waters have long been ignored in environmental efforts. Today, only about 1% are subject to conservation measures.

The new treaty will facilitate the creation of marine protected areas. The text is expected to come into effect in 2025, at the next UN Ocean Conference in France.

Is a treaty against plastic pollution in the works?

The good news may not end with 2023. Representatives from 175 countries have been developing a legally binding agreement on plastic pollution. This is a significant challenge as plastic, derived from petrochemicals, can be found everywhere – from the depths of the oceans to the tops of our planet’s highest mountains.

Read moreTackling plastic pollution: ‘We can’t recycle our way out of this’

However, there is a divergence of views on plastic pollution. Some are calling for a binding treaty aimed at “restricting and reducing the consumption and production” of plastic, while others argue for a focus on better waste management.

This article was translated from the original in French.

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Riots, protests and climate uprisings: 2023 was a tumultuous year in France

France encountered severe turbulence over the past 12 months, roiled by a long and bitter battle over pension reform as well as crippling droughts, sizzling heatwaves and nationwide rioting. FRANCE 24 takes a look at some of the top stories from a year of turmoil.

Even by French standards, 2023 was a year of exceptional social unrest, marked by France’s largest protest movement this century and the worst bout of rioting in almost two decades. From start to end, President Emmanuel Macron’s minority government struggled to pass legislation in a fractious and bitterly divided parliament, often opting to bypass it altogether. Severe droughts and unseasonal heatwaves pushed the life-threatening challenges of climate change to the fore, while a nationwide bedbug frenzy brought unwanted attention from abroad as the country hosted the Rugby World Cup and raced to prepare for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

  • Pension battle ends in Pyrrhic win for Macron

A montage of President Emmanuel Macron as the “Sun King” Louis XIV at a protest against pension reform in Paris on March 23, 2023. © Benjamin Dodman, FRANCE 24

Macron kicked off the year with a push to overhaul France’s pension system, setting the stage for a showdown with a united front of unions. The French president staked his reformist credentials on passage of the flagship reform, which raised the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64 – a step his government said was necessary to balance the books amid shifting demographics. Unions countered that the reform would disproportionately affect low-skilled workers and women, successfully framing the pension debate as part of a wider fight for social justice.

The months-long tussle saw opponents of the reform stage multiple rounds of strikes and protests, drawing huge crowds in cities, towns and even villages across France. Refinery shutdowns and transport strikes caused travel chaos while a walkout by rubbish collectors kicked up a “great stink” in the streets of Paris – though unions ultimately failed in their bid to “paralyse” the country. Throughout the standoff, polls consistently showed that a large majority of the French opposed the reform, piling the pressure on a government already outnumbered in parliament.

Violence flared in late March when Macron ordered his government to ram the reform through parliament without a vote, using special executive powers. The move sparked several nights of unrest and turned the festering social dispute into a crisis of French democracy. Police crackdowns and controversial rulings by France’s constitutional court helped snuff out the movement, handing Macron a pyrrhic victory – though in the weeks that followed he could scarcely take a step outside the Élysée Palace without being greeted by protesters banging pots and pans.

  • Teen’s death sets off nationwide riots

Fireworks target French riot police during protests in Nanterre, west of Paris, on June 28, 2023.
Fireworks target French riot police during protests in Nanterre, west of Paris, on June 28, 2023. © Zakaria Abdelkafiz, AFP

Running battles between riot police and pension protesters revived a long-standing debate on police brutality in France – with human rights monitors both at home and abroad raising the alarm over officers’ “excessive use of force”. The scrutiny only increased in late June when towns and cities across the country erupted in rage at the killing of Nahel M., a 17-year-old of North African origin who was shot dead by police during a routine traffic stop in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.

Social media footage of the incident, which contradicted police claims that Nahel had posed a threat to officers, kicked off several nights of rioting in France’s deprived and ethnically diverse suburbs, known as banlieues, where non-white youths have long complained of being singled out by police. Rioters focused their attacks on symbols of the state, including police stations, schools and town halls. The Interior Ministry said that more than 1,000 buildings and 5,000 vehicles were torched. 

In a rare criticism of the police, Macron described the fatal shooting as “inexplicable” and “unforgivable”, while the UN’s human rights office urged France to “seriously address the deep issues of racism and discrimination in law enforcement”. However, the initial expressions of outrage soon gave way to hardline law-and-order rhetoric amid consecutive nights of rioting. And as police unions openly spoke of battling “vermin” and “savage hordes”, analysts feared the real lessons of Nahel’s killing – like other past tragedies – would not be learned.

A protester holds up a Palestinian flag at an unauthorised rally in solidarity with Gaza held in central Paris on October 12, 2023.
A protester holds up a Palestinian flag at an unauthorised rally in solidarity with Gaza held in central Paris on October 12, 2023. © AFP

When the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas launched a murderous attack on southern Israel on October 7, triggering a ferocious and devastating Israeli response, French authorities openly voiced concern that the conflict might stoke further unrest in France, home to Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim populations. 

A spike in anti-Semitic acts sowed anguish among French Jews and politicians of all stripes took part in a Paris march to denounce anti-Semitism, though the presence of Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally led some opponents to shun the rally. Meanwhile, rights groups voiced dismay as the government banned pro-Palestinian protests on the grounds that they might “disturb public order”, until judges ruled that a blanket ban was unlawful. The war also sparked a rare dispute at an annual march against gender-based violence in Paris, signaling tensions between French feminists over their response to sexual crimes attributed to Hamas. 

Fears that the plight of Gaza would inspire Islamist militants to carry out attacks on French soil appeared to materialise on October 13 when a high-school teacher in northern Arras was stabbed to death by a radicalised former pupil who originated from Russia’s Ingushetia – reigniting the trauma of Samuel Paty’s beheading in 2020. In the days following the Arras stabbing, government ministers suggested the war in Gaza may have “precipitated” events, though investigators were yet to establish a formal link with the assailant, who had declared allegiance to the Islamic State group prior to the attack.

  • Far right hails hardline immigration law

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin spent much of the year trying to build support in parliament for a tough new immigration law.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin attends a session of questions to the government at The National Assembly in Paris on December 12, 2023. © Bertrand Guay, AFP

For Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, the Arras knife attack proved the need for new legislation making it easier to expel foreign nationals suspected of radicalisation. The hawkish minister had spent much of the year trying to build parliamentary support for a tough new “immigration law”, which rights groups condemned as repressive. His efforts appeared to have collapsed when opposition lawmakers banded together to shoot down the bill before it was even debated in the National Assembly. 

In response, the government submitted an even tougher law to win over right-wing lawmakers, introducing measures that discriminate between citizens and immigrants in terms of eligibility to benefits. The law was harsh enough for Le Pen to claim it as an “ideological victory” for her National Rally and its passage with support from the far right sparked a crisis within Macron’s ruling party, leading his health minister to resign in protest. In a rare move, a third of French regions vowed not to comply with some of its toughest measures. 

  • Droughts, heatwaves and climate uprisings

Burnt sunflowers pictured in a field near the village of Puy Saint Martin, in southeastern France, on August 22, 2023.
Burnt sunflowers pictured in a field near the village of Puy Saint Martin, in southeastern France, on August 22, 2023. © Jeff Pachoud, AFP

The ubiquitous Darmanin made headlines throughout the year as he ordered the disbanding of a range of groups he deemed extremist. They included the climate movement Les Soulèvements de la Terre (“Earth’s uprisings”), whose attempt to prevent the construction of controversial water reservoirs resulted in a pitched battle with police that left hundreds injured and two people in a coma. The interior minister accused the group of inciting “ecoterrorism”, but his attempt to ban it was quashed by France’s top administrative court.

The clashes at Sainte-Soline were indicative of mounting tensions between corporate farming and environmental activists as the country grappled with recurrent and increasingly unseasonal heatwaves, which put further stress on fragile ecosystems already weakened by crippling droughts. The climate emergency cast a spotlight on livestock farming and eating habits, with meat consumption the biggest contributor to food-related greenhouse gas emissions. 

Adapting the way farmers use water resources was one of 50 measures included in a water-saving plan unveiled in March, following an exceptionally dry winter. Extraordinary measures were required to help the Indian ocean island of Mayotte, where the worst drought in decades forced the government to send a military cargo ship stacked with drinking water. And in Paris, where scientists warned that temperatures could reach 50C by 2050, volunteers used a pioneering tree-planting method to create pocket forests offering shelter from the heat. 

  • Paris Olympics feel the heat

An illustration showing the concept for the Paris Olympics opening ceremony, to be staged on the River Seine.
An illustration showing the concept for the Paris Olympics opening ceremony, to be staged on the River Seine. © Florian Hulleu, AFP

As the French capital grappled with the challenges of climate change, organisers of next year’s Summer Olympics struggled to back up their pledge to make the Paris 2024 Games the “greenest” yet. In May, they backtracked on a promise to eliminate more greenhouse gas emissions than those generated by the event, while insisting Paris 2024 would still halve the carbon footprint of previous games. But delays to transport upgrades threatened to jeopardise emissions targets, while climate activists described carbon-offsetting plans as little more than “greenwashing”.

Ambitious plans to host the opening ceremony along the River Seine – rather than inside a stadium – also came under scrutiny as officials released an 11-page security protocol aimed at shielding the event from the threats of terrorism, drone attacks and other risks. The protocol triggered a rare protest by the French capital’s famed bouquinistes, whose iconic riverside book kiosks will be dismantled for the occasion. The Seine churned up more headaches for organisers when pollution levels repeatedly forced the cancellation of trials for swimming events set to be held in the river.

  • Hosts fall short at Rugby World Cup

France's captain Antoine Dupont (left) and lock Cameron Woki react after the hosts' quarter-final defeat at the Rugby World Cup.
France’s captain Antoine Dupont (left) and lock Cameron Woki react after the hosts’ quarter-final defeat at the Rugby World Cup. © Franck Fife, AFP

Doubts about France’s ability to host large sporting events had simmered since the Champions League final hosted at the Stade de France in May 2022, when French police notoriously doused Liverpool fans with tear gas and pepper spray amid a chaotic build-up marred by train strikes and issues of fake ticketing. This year’s Rugby World Cup, hosted at the same venue and in eight other French cities, was a chance for France to make amends and prove its readiness – a challenge organisers largely pulled off.

The seven-week rugby extravaganza kicked off with a memorable French win over old rivals New Zealand, which bolstered the home nation’s hopes of winning a maiden World Cup title. Those hopes took a blow when a fractured cheekbone stripped the hosts of their talismanic skipper Antoine Dupond. The fly-half returned with a face mask for the crunch quarter-final against title holders South Africa but could not prevent an agonising one-point defeat for Les Bleus. After edging England by the same margin in the semis, the Springboks went on to grab the narrowest of wins over the All Blacks in the final, clinching a record fourth World Cup title. 

  • Bedbugs, tiger mosquitoes and trotinettes

Self-service e-scooters were banished from the streets of Paris after a public consultation marked by record-low turnout.
Self-service e-scooters were banished from the streets of Paris after a public consultation marked by record-low turnout. © Thomas Coex, AFP

Midway through the tournament, concern over an increase in the number of bedbugs rapidly spiralled into national hysteria, with the bloodsucking pests making headlines both in France and abroad. Cinemas, trains and Paris metros were said to be crawling with the tiny insects and one lawmaker brandished a vial of bugs in the National Assembly, urging the government to address the “explosive situation”. But officials insisted there was no scientific evidence to suggest any explosion in bedbugs, and that images posted on social media did not necessarily mean growing numbers.

Health authorities appeared more concerned about the spread of the Asian tiger mosquito as evidence emerged that the black-and-white striped insect had settled in 71 of the country’s 96 mainland départements (administrative units). With climate change creating perfect conditions for its proliferation, experts warned that the invasive species threatened to spread diseases like zika, dengue and chikungunya.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tackled a very different type of nuisance when she called a referendum on banning self-service e-scooters, citing irresponsible use and a rising accident toll. The April vote was billed as a showdown between trottinettes-hating boomers and Gen Z, the service’s main users. But only the former showed up for the low-turnout ballot, and the e-scooters were duly banished from the streets of Paris.

  • Ukrainian art, Gainsbourg and a fiery Palme d’Or

This Byzantine icon of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, dating from 6th-7th centuries, went on show at the Louvre after it was evacuated from Ukraine.
This Byzantine icon of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, dating from 6th-7th centuries, went on show at the Louvre after it was evacuated from Ukraine. © Khanenko Museum

As always, the French capital’s museums and galleries served up an abundance of art shows, dedicated to the likes of Vincent van Gogh, Marc Chagall and Berthe Morisot. Paris exhibits showcased Ukrainian art work evacuated following Russia’s invasion last year, taking the fight for the country’s heritage to the world-famous Louvre. Photographer Robert Doisneau’s little-known work forging documents during the Nazi occupation was the subject of a groundbreaking show near Paris, and the iconic Left Bank home of singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg finally opened to the public – its ashtrays still brimming with Gitanes cigarette butts.

Down on the Riviera, French director Justine Triet won the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or for her thrilling courtroom drama “Anatomy of a Fall” – becoming only the third female director to win cinema’s most prestigious award. But it was a bittersweet success for Macron and his ministers, whose cultural policies and conduct during France’s pension battle she proceeded to rubbish in a fiery acceptance speech broadcast live on national television.

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Of love letters and distant galaxies: Uplifting stories from 2023

It was a turbulent year from start to end, but 2023 was not just about devastating wars, natural disasters and the cost-of-living crisis. The past 12 months also saw the approval of a revolutionary new malaria vaccine, a sharp drop in the deforestation of the Amazon, and an historic victory for the LGBTQ+ community in Nepal. FRANCE 24 lists the top good news stories of the year.

  • Euclid telescope sheds light on distant galaxies

The Euclid blasted off into space in July on the world’s first ever mission to investigate dark matter and dark energy. Four months later, the European Space Agency released the first five images captured by the telescope – and they were as stunning as they were enlightening.

One of the telescope’s observations, for example, depicted the Perseus Cluster, a massive and distant collection of more than a thousand galaxies. In the background, more than 100,000 additional galaxies were visible. Some of them are estimated to be some 10 billion light years away and had never before been seen before. The images also included a nebula resembling a horse’s head, part of the Orion constellation.

ESA chief Josef Aschbacher described the pictures as “awe-inspiring” and a reminder of why it is so important for humans to explore space.

This undated handout obtained on November 2, 2023 from the European Space Agency shows an astronomical image of a Horsehead Nebula taken during ESA’s Euclid space mission. © ESA via AFP

  • Breakthroughs in treatment of Parkinson’s disease

The year was also marked by several breakthroughs in the detection and treatment of Parkinson’s disease. In April, a team of researchers presented a new technique they said could identify the build-up of abnormal proteins associated with Parkinson’s. This build-up is the pathological hallmark of the illness, and its detection could help diagnose the condition long before symptoms appear. Up until now, there have been no specific tests to diagnose Parkinson’s.  

“Identifying an effective biomarker for Parkinson’s disease pathology could have profound implications for the way we treat the condition, potentially making it possible to diagnose people earlier, identify the best treatments for different subsets of patients and speed up clinical trials,” said Pennsylvania University’s Andrew Siderowf, who co-authored the study.

There was more good news in November, when a long-term Parkinson’s disease patient who had long been confined to his home was given a neuroprosthetic and regained his full ability to walk. The implant comprises an electrode field placed against the spinal cord as well as an electrical impulse generator under the skin of the abdomen, which stimulates the spinal cord to activate the leg muscles.

Marc Gauthier, a 61-year-old Parkinson's patient, walks again thanks to a neuroprosthesis.
Marc Gauthier, a 61-year-old Parkinson’s patient, walks again thanks to a neuroprosthesis. © Gabriel Monnet, AFP

  • WHO-backed vaccine raises hopes of ‘malaria-free future’

In October, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it had approved the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine –the second malaria vaccine to be cleared by the global health body and the first to meet its goal of a 75 percent efficacy.

“As a malaria researcher, I used to dream of the day we would have a safe and effective vaccine against malaria,” said Doctor Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director general, for whom the vaccine will help “protect more children faster, and bring us closer to our vision of a malaria-free future”.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease that claims around half a million lives around the world every year, mainly in Africa. The disease mostly affects children under the age of five, and pregnant women.

The Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by doses, is already lined up to make more than 100 million doses a year and plans to scale up to 200 million a year. Available supplies of the other WHO-approved vaccine, RTS,S, are limited and more expensive.

A health worker vaccinates a child against malaria in Ndhiwa, Homabay County, in western Kenya.
A health worker vaccinates a child against malaria in Ndhiwa, Homabay County, in western Kenya. © Brian Ongoro, AFP

  • Endangered antelopes, seals and squirrels fare better

When the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) issued its annual Red List of threatened species in mid-December, the typically alarming report also featured some surprisingly good news.

Prospects for the scimitar-horned oryx, for instance, improved over the year thanks to a reintroduction programme in Chad, and the antelope’s status was moved from “extinct in the wild” to “endangered”. Meanwhile, the previously “critically endangered” saiga antelope, found mainly in Kazakhstan, was reclassified as “near threatened” thanks to local anti-poaching measures.

Things also improved for the monk seal and the red-bellied squirrel, while the African rhinoceros population grew 5 percent to more than 23,000.

Une jeune antilope Saïga dans la steppe à la frontière des régions d'Akmola et de Kostanay au Kazakhstan, le 8 mai 2022.
A newborn Saiga calf lies in the steppe on the border of Akmola and Kostanay regions of Kazakhstan on May 8, 2022. © Abduaziz Madyarov, AFP

  • Dinosaur fossil rewrites bird evolution theory

A tiny half-bird, half-dinosaur fossil found in the Fujian province in southeast China was presented to the public in September in what scientists described as a small revolution for bird evolution theory.

The creature, named Fujianvenator Prodigiosus, is believed to have lived during the Late Jurassic Period, 148 million to 150 million years ago. Its discovery bridges a gap in fossil records pertaining to the origin of birds, which diverged from two-legged therapod dinosaurs during the Jurassic Period.

Bird evolution theories had previously been based largely on the “oldest known” bird, the larger Archaeopteryx, that was discovered in 1860. Discovery of the Fujianvenator Prodigiosus, which dates from the same period as the Archaeopteryx but has very different features, implies that there may have been not just one, but a variety of different dino-birds around the world at the same time.

Birds survived the asteroid strike that doomed the non-avian dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

Un fossile d'Archaeopteryx, considéré comme
A 150-million-year-old fossil of an Archaeopteryx, considered the world’s oldest bird, pictured in 2010. © AFP

  • A much-needed respite for the Amazon

When Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva succeeded Jair Bolsonaro as the country’s president in January, he pledged to end the catastrophic deforestation of the Amazon – once known as “the world’s lungs” – by 2030. While that goal is still far off, the incoming government’s efforts have already started to pay off.

In July, the national space agency INPE’s annual deforestation tracking programme reported that deforestation of the Amazon in Brazil had dropped by as much as 22.3 percent year-on-year, reaching a five-year low.

According to the Brazilian government, the deforestation decrease prevented the emission of some 133 million tons of CO2, which accounts for around 7.5 percent of the country’s total emissions.

La déforestation de l'Amazonie a diminué de 22,3 % en un an en 2023 pour atteindre son niveau le plus bas depuis cinq ans.
Deforestation in the Amazon fell by 22.3% year-on-year in 2023 to its lowest level in five years. © Michael Dantas, AFP

  • COP28 launches ‘historic’ loss and damage fund

The COP28, hosted by the United Arab Emirates this year, started out with a historic announcement: the establishment of a loss and damage fund that will compensate vulnerable nations for disaster damage or irreversible losses linked to climate change.

The West and the United Arab Emirates immediately pledged money for the fund, racking up a total of $655 million. Although it is far from enough, it can at least be perceived as a good start.

“The launch will finally help populations affected by the worst impacts of climate change,” said Fanny Petitbon, spokeswoman for the environmental advocacy group Care France.

Le président de la COP28, Sultan al-Jaber annonce le vote de l'accord final mentionnant les énergies fossiles, le 13 décembre 2023, à Dubaï.
COP28 president Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber applauds as delegates reach an agreement at the climate summit in Dubai on December 13, 2023. © Giuseppe Cacace, AFP

  • LGBT+ rights progress in Japan and Nepal

LGBT+ rights progressed in at least some parts of the world this year.

Japan’s supreme court issued a historic ruling in July condemning restrictions imposed by the finance ministry on a transgender female employee as to which toilet she could use. The ruling came on the heels of landmark legislation to promote understanding of LGBT+ minorities and protect them from discrimination.

In Nepal, the authorities recognised the country’s first ever same-sex marriage, uniting a transgender woman who is legally recognised as male and a cisgender man. The couple, who had married in 2017, were helped by a supreme court decision in June that allowed same-sex couples to register their marriages.

“The fight for rights is not easy. We have done it. And it will be easier for future generations,” said one of the grooms, Ram Bahadur Gurung. “The registration has opened doors to a lot of things for us.”

Ram Bahadur Gurung, femme transgenre et Surendra Pandey, lors d'une conférence de presse après avoir officialisé leur mariage, le 1er décembre 2023, à Kathmandou, au Népal.
Transgender woman Ram Bahadur Gurung and her partner Surendra Pandey hug each other after their wedding in Kathmandu, Nepal, on December 1, 2023. © Navesh Chitrakar, Reuters

  • Love letters to French sailors finally opened, 250 years on

“I could spend the night writing to you … I am your forever faithful wife.” These lines were written by Marie Dubosc to her husband Louis Chamberlain, the first lieutenant of the French warship the Galatee, in 1758. But Chamberlain never received them.

Dubosc’s letter, along with dozens of others, was confiscated when the British Royal Navy captured the ship and its crew en route from Bordeaux to Quebec during the Seven Years’ War between Britain and France. It remained unopened in British archives until history professor Renaud Morieux of the University of Cambridge finally unsealed the missives.

The historian said the letters provided a rare insight into the lives of sailors and their families in the 1700s.

Une lettre d'Anne Le Cerf à son mari, rédigée au 18e siècle, a finalement été ouverte et lue plus de 250 ans plus tard, en 2023.
A letter from Anne Le Cerf to her husband, written in the 18th century, was finally opened and read more than 250 years later, in 2023. © The National Archives via AFP

  • Ancient Egyptian mummies are exhumed

Two golden-laced mummies were found several metres underground in the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis, south of Cairo, at the start of the year.

The mummies, estimated to have been buried some 4,300 years ago, are among the oldest in the world and were discovered approximately one month apart in the Saqqara necropolis.

Saqqara was used as a burial site for more than 3,000 years and is considered one of Egypt’s most important historical sites, serving as the burial grounds for Egyptian royalty. The vast burial site stretches over more than 20 kilometres and contains several hundred tombs. The latest finds underscored the many ancient Egyptian treasures that are yet to be discovered.

Deux momies ont été découvertes à un mois d'intervalle, plusieurs mètres sous terre, dans la nécropole de Saqqarah, dans la région de Memphis, en Égypte.
Two mummies were discovered a month apart, several metres underground, in the Saqqarah necropolis in the Memphis region of Egypt. © Khaled Desouki, AFP

This article was adapted from the original in French.

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COP28 nations adopt first-ever climate deal to ‘transition away’ from fossil fuels

The COP28 climate summit on Wednesday approved a deal that would, for the first time, push nations to “transition” from fossil fuels to avert the worst effects of climate change.

  • Biden hails COP28 climate deal as ‘historic milestone’

US President Joe Biden hailed a deal secured on Wednesday at UN climate talks in Dubai as a “historic milestone” in transitioning away from fossil fuels but said there was still work to do.

“Today, at COP28, world leaders reached another historic milestone – committing, for the first time, to transition away from the fossil fuels that jeopardize our planet and our people,” Biden said in a statement. 

“While there is still substantial work ahead of us to keep the 1.5°C goal within reach, today’s outcome puts us one significant step closer.”


THE DEBATE © France 24

 

The deal asks for greater action this decade and recommits to no net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in hopes of meeting the increasingly elusive goal of checking warming at 1.5°C (2.7°F) above pre-industrial levels.

The United States is the world’s second biggest greenhouse gas emitter after China.

Biden skipped the Dubai summit and sent Vice President Kamala Harris to attend the start instead.

  • Russia warns against ‘chaotic’ fossil fuels exit

Russia on Wednesday warned against a “chaotic” exit from fossil fuels, while welcoming the “compromise” deal reached at the COP28 summit in Dubai on transitioning away from them.

“We have at every opportunity stressed the consequences of a chaotic exit without the backing of science,” Ruslan Edelgeriyev, Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s special envoy for climate issues, was quoted by TASS news agency as saying.

“We cannot ignore the diverse needs of people around the world, including the need for affordable and reliable energy,” he said.

“The final deal will probably not satisfy everyone but that only shows it is a compromise.”

Russia is one of the main gas, oil and coal producers in the world.

According to many experts, Siberia and the Russian Arctic are some of the regions in the world most affected by climate change.

  • OPEC secretary-general says oil sector in jeopardy without adequate investment

OPEC+‘s Secretary-General Haitham Al Ghais said in a statement on Wednesday that the oil industry is in jeopardy without adequate levels of investment.

He also congratulated the UAE for the positive outcome of COP28.

  • US climate envoy John Kerry addresses COP28 after deal on fossil fuels

US climate envoy John Kerry said that no side can ever achieve everything in negotiations and praised the deal as a sign a war-torn world can come together for the common good.

“I think everyone has to agree this is much stronger and clearer as a call on 1.5(°C) than we have ever heard before, and it clearly reflects what the science says,” Kerry said. “We will continue to press for a more rapid transition.”

“The Paris agreement and the global stock take both stress the importance of developing and updating long-term strategies in order to reduce emissions and enhance resilience,” he added. 

US climate envoy John Kerry at COP28.
US climate envoy John Kerry at COP28. © FRANCE 24

Seeking to avoid the geopolitical tensions that have strained cooperation on other issues, Kerry met ahead of COP28 with his counterpart from China, leading to a joint call by the world’s two largest emitters to step up renewable energy.

  • Almost 200 countries adopt first-ever climate deal on fossil fuels

Nations adopted on Wednesday the first ever UN climate deal that calls for the world to transition away from fossil fuels.

“Together we have set the world in the right direction,” COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber said at the UN climate summit in Dubai, prompting delegates to rise and applaud.

Al-Jaber hailed a the deal approved by almost 200 countries as an “historic package” of measures which offered a “robust plan” to keep the target of 1.5°C within reach.

SCIENCE
SCIENCE © FRANCE 24

 

“We have delivered a paradigm shift that has the potential to redefine our economies,” he said during the closing session of the COP28 summit, shortly after the deal was approved.

He added a note of caution for nations: “An agreement is only as good as its implementation. We are what we do, not what we say.”

UN climate chief Simon Stiell urged countries to turn pledges into action after the agreement was passed.

“Now, all governments and businesses need to turn these pledges into real-economy outcomes without delay,” Stiell told delegates in Dubai.

  • New UN climate draft calls for ‘transitioning away’ from fossil fuels

A draft agreement unveiled early Wednesday in talks in Dubai toughens language by calling for “transitioning away” from fossil fuels, although it does not use the term “phase out”.

The text, released for consideration after another full night of haggling, would also call for “accelerating action” during “this critical decade” – providing more urgency than an earlier proposal widely dismissed by green-minded countries.

The previous draft also drew fire for offering a list of options that “could” be taken to combat the dangerous warming of the planet.


 

The new draft explicitly “calls on” all nations to contribute through a series of actions.

The actions include “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science”, the new draft says.

It calls for phase-downs of “unabated coal power” – meaning that coal with carbon capture technology to reduce emissions, panned by many environmentalists as unrealistic, could continue.

It also calls for “phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that do not address energy poverty or just transitions, as soon as possible”.

But it does not call for a “phase out” of fossil fuels.

Discussions during the 14 days of talks in Dubai, a metropolis built on oil wealth, had revolved around how far to go and whether to make a historic call to wind down oil, gas and coal, the main culprits in the planet’s rapid warming.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP & Reuters)

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How lending-based climate finance is pushing poor countries deeper into debt

After more than a decade of disappointment, the world’s wealthiest countries may have finally fulfilled their 2009 promise to mobilise $100 billion a year to help developing countries face the climate crisis. But the harsh truth is that developing nations are going to have to pay most of that money back – with interest.

When the world’s wealthiest economies pledged in 2009 to mobilise $100 billion a year towards climate action for developing countries by 2020, few present at the COP15 questioned the urgency of the task before them. Certainly not then-UK prime minister Gordon Brown, the first person to propose the figure in a speech delivered in the months leading up to that year’s climate summit in Copenhagen.

In his “manifesto”, the sombre Scot listed an almost Biblical litany of disaster sweeping across the developing world: 325 million people “seriously affected” by drought, dearth, deluge or disease; a further half a billion souls at extreme risk; and 300,000 lives lost, every year, to the effects of climate change.

“In the developing world, climate change is already devastating lives,” he said.

According to the best estimates of the OECD, 2022 may have finally marked the first year the wealthiest economies finally kept their promise in delivering the funds desperately needed by developing nations to adapt to a warming world and to mitigate the impacts on populations most vulnerable to the climate crisis. But behind the rhetoric of first-world reparations for the global harm caused by a century and a half of fossil-fuel-led industrial development squats an uglier reality: most of the money that makes its way to developing nations in public climate finance is going to have to be paid back – with interest.

Market-level interest rates

OECD data from 2016-2020, the most recent we have, shows that loans made up 72 percent of international climate finance. Of that number, three-quarters of the loans from multilateral development banks (MDBs) such as the World Bank were non-concessional, or loans issued with interest rates set at market levels. Just one quarter of international climate finance over the same period took the form of grants.

More worryingly, Oxfam estimates that the proportion of non-concessional finance is growing. In their Climate Finance Shadow Report released in June 2023, the organisation estimated that the annual average of non-concessional instruments in climate finance had reached $28 billion – 42 percent – in 2019-20, while concessional lending remained largely on the same level as the previous two years.

Although MDBs accounted for much of this market-rate lending, a small number of wealthy countries continue to use loans as their main form of climate finance. Of all the bilateral providers, France leads the pack in lending, with a massive 92 percent of its bilateral public climate finance taking the form of loans.

And while a large share of that lending is made up of concessional or “soft” loans, which are offered at more favourable interest rates or longer repayment schedules, an alarming 17 percent of its bilateral climate finance is non-concessional. For Spain, that number is a staggering 85 percent. More than half of Austria’s climate financing is non-concessional, according to Oxfam’s analysis, as is almost a third of the United States’ climate financing.

Paying back billions – with interest

Put together, this adds up to tens of billions of dollars every year that countries of the Global South will one day be forced to pay back to the world’s wealthiest nations and development banks – with interest. And with global interest rates rising steeply, the cost of servicing those debts year after year will eat into the already-stretched budgets of countries buckling under the weight of debts that are getting harder to pay back.

Danielle Koh, policy analyst at the NGO Reclaim Finance, said that the problem partly arises from the sheer magnitude of the challenge of raising funds to tackle the climate crisis.

“The scale of climate funding required is enormous,” she said. “To rely only on public financing would not be sufficient to meet 1.5°C pathway-aligned targets, and loans at market rates could attract and mobilise private capital.”

By including loans at their full face value, Koh said, wealthy countries are also able to claim credit for meeting their climate pledges far beyond what they are actually giving away. Of the more than $83 billion that was claimed to have been raised in 2020, Oxfam estimates the actual value for developing countries to be between just $21 and $24 billion. And while non-concessional finance is not counted towards countries’ official development assistance spending more broadly, this distinction has yet to be made when it comes to funding climate action.

“In providing financing to developing countries, loans at market rates could be favoured because developed countries can count such loans towards being able to fulfil climate financing commitments while at the same time avoiding giving direct grants or other concessional types of financing, which would be more costly,” said Koh.

Counting non-concessional loans as climate finance may not just be disingenuous, but dangerous. Sixty percent of low-income countries are already either in or on the verge of debt distress, forced to spend five times more every year on servicing their debts than they do on climate adaptation.

Counterproductive debt burden

Safa’ Al Jayoussi, climate justice adviser at Oxfam Middle East and North Africa, said that adding to low-income countries’ debt burden would make them more vulnerable, rather than more resilient, to the ravages of the climate crisis. 

“It’s a big risk, because countries are already distressed,” she said. “Developing countries are dealing with a lot of loans from the World Bank and other institutions that are causing more austerity. Adding more pressure to the countries … will impact those most vulnerable to climate change. This kind of funding is making adaptation and mitigation to climate change more difficult.”

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), public debt has been growing faster in developing nations than in their developed counterparts over the past decade. Faced with compounding crises of Covid-19, climate change and the cost-of-living crisis, the number of countries facing high levels of debt has increased dramatically, from just 22 countries in 2011 to 59 countries in 2022.

And debt is costing developing nations dearly. On average, African countries pay interest rates four times higher than those of the US, and eight times higher than Germany. To service those debts year after year, countries have little choice other than to redirect funds that may otherwise have gone to badly underfunded sectors such as health or education. In the ten years between 2010 and 2020, the number of countries where interest spending accounted for 10 percent or more of their public revenues rose from 29 to 55.

More debt, then, seems to be the last thing the developing world needs.

“There is a real danger that this could lead to high debt burdens in developing countries,” Koh said. “With global rising interest rates, the cost of servicing debt for developing nations will rise substantially. Loans in foreign currencies could expose developing countries to soaring costs over servicing their debt in the case of exchange rate fluctuations or depreciations over time. In the long term, repaying climate debt not only diverts financial resources away from developing other sectors, but could lead to economic and fiscal instability.”

Hans Peter Dejgaard, senior consultant at INKA Consult and a specialist in climate finance, said that while it made sense to finance some renewable energy infrastructure in middle-income developing countries through loans as commercially viable projects, too much reliance on loan-based financing would put poor countries in an impossible position if interest rates continued to rise.

He cited a World Bank loan of $400 million to the Philippines in early 2022 aimed at accelerating climate-related objectives. After the US Federal Reserve raised interest rates to just under 6 percent in April 2023 to fight rising inflation, he said, the total repayments that the Philippine government would have to make over a period of 20 years had potentially risen from $482 million to $686 million – a 42 percent increase.

“This will affect their social and education budget,” he said.

Reclaim Finance’s Koh said that the cost for financing climate action should not be borne by the countries least able to afford it.

“There is no ‘one model fits all’ when it comes to funding climate finance, but there are certain principles that we can rely on to guide our approach,” she said. “For example, that concessional financing and grants should be favoured over market-rate loans, whether through initiatives like the Loss and Damage Fund or others, to help developing countries build resources for climate adaptation and mitigation while avoiding increasing their debt burden.”

For Al Jayoussi, that very burden should instead be borne by the countries most responsible for fuelling the worsening climate crisis. 

“Developing countries didn’t even cause climate change,” she said. “We need to revamp and change the finance structure that caused climate change in the first place. We need grants and grant mechanisms for the most vulnerable countries, developing countries, to overcome climate change.”

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IBBC’s Two-Day Conference Success: ‘Building a Sustainable Future for Iraq’ | Iraq Business News

From the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC):

IBBC’s two-day conference success ‘Building a sustainable future for Iraq’.

IBBC held an expanded two- day conference in Dubai to coincide with Cop 28 to focus on ‘a sustainable future for Iraq’, with one day dedicated to Education and Training and one for Business, Investment, and Energy.

IBBC welcomed its largest delegations to date, reflecting both the scope of the discussions and the interest in Iraq.

Of particular note was interest in the Education and Skills day, which not only enjoyed the largest turnout from business members and top UK Education speakers for Iraq anywhere, but also leading figures; UK’s Lord Boateng who made a keynote speech; Wayne David MP, Shadow Minster for Middle East and Dr. Jamal Abdulzahra Mezaal Khoailed, Advisor to the Iraqi President; Professor Hamid Khalaf Ahmed, Iraqi PM Advisor & Executive Director at the Higher Committee for Education Development in Iraq, and the UK’s largest recent contingent of universities operating and engaging with Iraq. The British Ambassador to Iraq, Mr Stephen Hitchen and Professor Alaa Alzwghaibi, of the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education also spoke.

Key topics focused on vocational training, skills, and education relevant for the modernisation and development of Iraq, the new Iraqi Government scholarship fund and academic and business collaboration, a new initiative and advisory board between business and Govt set up to focus university courses to the relevant needs of Iraq’s economy. Leading IBBC businesses also contributed, including Sardar Group, SAP, Hydro-C and a special presentation to Basra Gas Company who are recruiting and developing Iraqi graduates (40% of whom are women) for employment.

The Education day was opened by its main sponsor Dr Amir Sadaati of GEMS. It was chaired throughout in exspert manner by IBBC’s Health and education Advisor, Professor Mohammed Al Uzri.

Full list of speakers also include:

Professor Mary Stiasny, University of London; Dr Mohammed Shukri, Kurdistan Regional Government; H.E. Mr Alan Hama Saeed Salih, Ministry of Education Vocational Training, IRCS Centre for Vocational Training; Dr Yaseen Ahmed Abbas, President of Iraqi Red Crescent Society; Dr Tony Degazon, City and Guilds; H.E Dr Naji Al Mahdi, Chief Qualification and Awards KHDA, Dubai; Dr Ahmed Kanan Al-Jaafari, Supervision and Scientific Research Apparatus; Mr Gavin Busuttil-Reynaud, AQA- Alphaplus; Dr Hazim Al-Zubaidi, MOHESR, Iraq; Mr Peter O`Hara, University of London; Dr Kenan Barut, Cambridge University Press & Assessment; Mr Mahul Shah, Occupational English Test (OET); Mr Muhammad Zohaib, Chief Executive LRN; Dr Stephen Land PhD, University of Dundee; Professor Paul Coulthard, Queen Mary University of London; Professor Paul A. Townsend, University of Surrey; Professor Angela Simpson University of Chester.

Day two saw a deeper focus on business and the conference theme ‘Building a sustainable future for Iraq’. As in previous years the Business Day was chaired by IBBC’s GCC representative and Board Member Mr Vikas Handa.

Sustainability is directly linked to the environmental challenge on going at Cop 28 and affecting Iraq directly. As Dr Fareed Yaseen, Iraq’s Climate Envoy  said –

‘Iraq is in the front line of climate change, and its affecting all areas of the country from desertification of agriculture, to migration and water shortage and the possibility areas of the country may become uninhabitable from heat. Iraq is catching up in its compliance with Cop, having started late in 2009. Key is to adapt and develop a sustainable economy, a resilient private business sector, investment, work force training and agriculture.’

President of IBBC Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, welcomed delegates and ministers:

H.E. Dr Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, UAE, who stated trade with Iraq has increased 12.5% this year and we will collaborate on climate change; Dr. Abdulkareem Al Faisal, Chairman of the Prime Ministers Advisory Commission, speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Sudani; Dr Mohammed Shukri, Chairman, Kurdistan Board of Investment, speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Barzani;  Ambassador Stephen Hitchen, HM Ambassador to Iraq; Mr Wayne David MP, UK Shadow Minster for the MENA, articulated how Labour would focus their foreign policy if elected in ’24,

Panels included a Finance and Investment panel led by member Mr Raed Hanna of Mutual Finance; Mr Bilal Al-Sugheyer, IFC; Mr Mohammed Al-Delaimy, TBI; Dr Boutros Klink, SCB; Dr Sameer Al-Waely, Central Bank of Iraq, Mr Hani Idris, UAE Barnach Director of the International Development Bank,  at which the formation of a new foreign exchange bank was announced by the CBI.

A vibrant Energy session outlining the dramatic progress the oil and gas companies are undertaking to invest in capturing gas (for conversion into electivity) reduction in Co2 through process engineering, and cleaner air, gas and oil production, speakers included Chairman: Mr Vikas Handa; Mr Laith Al Shaher, IBBC Advisory Council; Ms Dunia Chalabi, TotalEnergies; Mr Zaid Elyaseri, BP; Mr Hassan Heshmat, Hydro – C; Mr Andrew Wiper, Basrah Gas  Company; Mr Muhanad Al-Saffar, Siemens Energy Iraq; Mr Rasheed Janabi, GE Vernova.

The Tech forum focused on how tech and data can help Iraq adapt to climate change and carbon transition, including insightful presentations from SAP, EY, Neom, UK’s Climate business advisor  (new report available here) and UAE’s Hyperloop engineer, to show us the way forward in building and infrastructure tech. (recording video here) Batoul Husseini, SAP MENA; Ahmed Gailani, UK GOV CCC committee; Owais Afridi, Director, Consulting of EY sustainability practice in MENA; Prof. Dr Sabih G. Khisaf, ICE; Mr Hussam Chakouf, NEOM.

IBBC’s MD Mr Christophe Michels hosted a roundtable discussion for 3 KRG Ministers, Dr Mohammed Shukri, Chairman, Kurdistan Board of Investment, Ms Begard Talabani, Minister for Water Resources & Agriculture, and Mr Kamal Muslim, Minister of Trade and Industry. A final panel asked, ‘What constitutes Business Successes?’

We heard passionate family insights about innovation, persistence, hard work, and adaptation from Mr Amar Shubar, Management Partners; Mr Andrew Martin, Al Busttan; Mr Richard Cotton, AAA Holding Group Ltd; Mrs Samar Al Mafraji, Sardar Group; Mr Aziz Khudairi, Khudairi Group.

The conference ended with Mr Christophe Michels thanking everyone involved and looking forward to the Spring Conference at The Mansion House in London on June 27th 2024.

IBBC is grateful to all of its Members for their support and contribution. Special thanks go to conference sponsors: AAA HoldingAl BusttanGEMS, TBISardar Group, Hydro-C and Basrah Gateway Terminal.

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Making water the engine for climate action

Much progress has been made on water security over recent decades, yet for the first time in human history, our collective actions have pushed the global water cycle out of balance. Water is life: it is essential for health, food, energy, socioeconomic development, nature and livable cities. It is hardly surprising that the climate and biodiversity crises are also a water crisis, where one reinforces the other. Already, a staggering four billion people suffer from water scarcity  for at least one month a year and two billion people lack access to safely-managed drinking water. By 2030, global water demand will exceed availability by 40 percent. By 2050, climate-driven water scarcity could impact the economic growth of some regions by up to 6 percent of their Gross Domestic Product per year.

Meike van Ginneken, Water Envoy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Right now, the world’s first Global Stocktake is assessing the progress being made toward the goals of the Paris Agreement and global leaders are convening at COP28 in Dubai to agree on a way forward. We have a critical opportunity to catalyze global ambition and recognize that water is how climate change manifests itself. While wealthier, more resilient nations may be able to manage the devastating impacts of climate change, these same challenges are disastrous for lesser developed, more vulnerable communities.

Rainfall, the source of all freshwater, is becoming more erratic. Changes in precipitation, evaporation and soil moisture are creating severe food insecurity. Droughts trap farmers in poverty, as the majority of cultivated land is rain-fed. Extreme drought reduces growth in developing countries by about 0.85 percentage points. Melting glaciers, sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion jeopardize freshwater supplies. Floods destroy infrastructure, damage homes and disrupt livelihoods. The 2022 Pakistan floods affected 33 million people and more than 1,730 lost their lives, while 2023 saw devastating floods in Libya among other places.  

Now more than ever, it is urgent that we work together to make water the engine of climate action. Already, many countries are investing in technology and climate-resilient water infrastructure. Yet, we need more than technology and engineering to adapt to a changing climate. To advance global water action, we must radically change the way we understand, value and manage water with an emphasis on two necessary measures.

First, we need to make water availability central to our economic planning and decision-making. We need to rethink where and how we grow our food, where we build our cities, and where we plan our industries. We cannot continue to grow thirsty crops in drylands or drain wetlands and cut down forests to raise our cattle. In a changing climate, water availability needs to guide where we undertake economic activity.

In a changing climate, water availability needs to guide where we undertake economic activity.  

Second, we must restore and protect natural freshwater stocks, our buffers against extreme climate events. Natural freshwater storage is how we save water for dry periods and freshwater storage capacity is how we store rainwater to mitigate floods. 99 percent of freshwater storage is in nature. We need to halt the decline of groundwater, wetlands and floodplains. But our challenge is not only about surface and groundwater bodies, or blue water. We also need to preserve and restore our green water stocks, or the water that remains in the soil after rainfall. To reduce the decline of blue water and preserve green water, we need to implement water-friendly crop-management practices and incorporate key stakeholders, such as farmers, into the decision-making process.

Addressing the urgency of the global water crisis goes beyond the water sector. It requires transformative changes at every level of society. National climate plans such as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans are key instruments to make water an organizing principle to spatial, economic and investment planning. Much like the Netherlands did earlier this year when the Dutch parliament adopted a policy that makes water and soil guiding principles in all our spatial planning decisions. Right now, about 90 percent of all countries’ NDCs prioritize action on water for adaptation. NDCs and National Adaptation Plans are drivers of integrated planning and have the potential to unlock vast investments, yet including targets for water is only a first step.

To drive global action, the Netherlands and the Republic of Tajikistan co-hosted the United Nations 2023 Water Conference, bringing the world together for a bold Water Action Agenda to accelerate change across sectors and deliver on the water actions in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. To elevate the agenda’s emphasis on accelerating implementation and improved impact, the Netherlands is contributing an additional €5 million to the NDC Partnership to support countries to mitigate the impacts of climate change, reduce water-related climate vulnerability and increase public and private investments targeting water-nexus opportunities. As a global coalition of over 200 countries and international institutions, the NDC Partnership is uniquely positioned to support countries to enhance the integration of water in formulating, updating, financing and implementing countries’ NDCs.

One example showcasing the importance of incorporating water management into national planning comes from former NDC Partnership co-chair and climate leader, Jamaica. Jamaica’s National Water Commission (NWC), one of the largest electricity consumers in the country, mobilized technical assistance to develop an integrated energy efficiency and renewables program to reduce its energy intensity, building up the resilience of the network, while helping reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. With additional support from the Netherlands, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), together with Global Water Partnership (GWP)-Caribbean, the government of Jamaica will ensure the National Water Commission is well equipped for the future. Implementation of climate commitments and the requisite financing to do so are key to ensuring targets like these are met.

Water has the power to connect. The Netherlands is reaching out to the world.

Water has the power to connect. The Netherlands is reaching out to the world. We are committed to providing political leadership and deploying our know-how for a more water-secure world. As we look towards the outcomes of the Global Stocktake and COP28, it is essential that we make water the engine of climate action. 



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COP28 Summit and India | Is climate fatigue setting in?

COP28 Summit and India | Is climate fatigue setting in

We are half way through the CoP28 being held in Dubai – with half a million registrations, 77,000 delegates, 189 countries– that will end next week. Many controversies have roiled the UAE Presidency, but they have also been able to clear quite a few agreements. 

  1. Loss and Damage Fund: This was something held over from CoP27 in Sharm El Sheikh last year, proposed by the G-77 in order to help the world’s most climate vulnerable countries. Around $450 million have been committee so far, including $100mn each from UAE and Germany, $145mn from EU, $50 mn from UK and $17mn from the US, to set up the fund to be managed by the World Bank 
  2. Global Stock Take: This will be the first CoP Global Stock Taking exercise (GST) to see how the world’s actions in the past few years measure up against the Paris CoP 21 agreement in 2016. 
  3. Green Pledge: CoP 28 also has cleared a Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge, which aims to triple renewable-energy generation capacity by 2030 and calls for an end to new investments in coal- significantly India didn’t sign on this. 
  4. Health Pledge: On the first Health Day at COP28, global leaders united in endorsing the health and climate change declaration, sounding the alarm on the severe health implications of climate change. India did not sign on to this either 
  5. Climate Finance: This CoP hopes to sort out the definition and mechanics of delivering $100bn in Climate finance by OECD countries, a pledge that was made in 2009, and was due to start in 2020, but has not been kept so far. 
  6. Fossil Fuel: The role of fossil fuels is being hotly debated in the CoP- particularly as big consumers and big economies China and India are against any curtailment of its planned development- at present the final draft is stuck on using the term Phase-out vs Phase-down of fuel, as India had insisted in Glasgow CoP. India has also made it clear that cuts must be on all fossil fuel, not just Coal which it needs for thermal power- about 73% of Indian power generation is based on coal- and has indicated that Oil and Gas cuts must also be included.

In his speech at the inaugural session with leaders PM Modi made several points: 

  1.  India has 17 percent of the world’s population, is the most populous country but its share in global carbon emissions is less than 4 percent- although Climate agencies say that figure is about 7% 
  2. India is one of the few economies in the world that is on track to meet the NDC targets. 
  3. India’s target is to reduce emissions intensity by 45 percent by 2030 
  4. India will increase the share of non-fossil fuel to 50 percent of the mix 
  5. India is sticking to a net zero target of 2070, not bringing that earlier. 
  6. India and UAE launched a Green Credit Initiative 
  7. The big announcement- that India would like to host the CoP33 to be held in 2028, that India last hosted in 2002.

“We don’t have much time to correct the mistakes of the last century.A small section of mankind has exploited the nature indiscriminately. But the whole humanity is paying its price, especially the residents of the Global South. This thinking of ‘only my welfare’ will take the world towards darkness. Every person sitting in this hall, every head of state has come here with a huge responsibility.”- Prime Minister Narendra Modi

It wasn’t all climate work- and PM Modi met with a number of leaders on the sidelines of CoP,  

  1. Discussing the Israel-Hamas conflict with leaders from the region including Israel President Herzog, UAE President, leaders of Jordan and other countries 
  2. The sentencing of 8 Indian Naval officers came up with the Emir of Qatar 
  3. Meetings with neighburhood leaders like Sri Lanka, and with the new President of Maldives Mohammad Muizzu, who subsequently said PM Modi had agreed to the Maldives demand to take back military personnel stationed there 
  4. And this famous selfie with Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni- who hashtagged the picture with Modi #Melodi. 

This CoP has also seen some major controversies and concerns as well:

  1. No Biden-Xi at CoP 28: The absence of both leaders was significant- with some suggesting that neither US President nor VP travelled to UAE given the Middle east crisis with the continuing bombardment of Gaza by Israel may have given a visit a political colour 
  2. At the same time Russian Putin arrived in UAE, but to discuss fossil fuel deals 
  3. Oil Lobby at CoP- there were several reports about the fact that UAE as host , itself a major oil exporter had a conflict of interest, and that many of those who came were pushing down targets on cutting fossil fuel production. 
  4. UAE CoP President Sultan Al Jaber himself came under fire- as he is not only the head of UAE’s renewable energy agency Master, but also of ADNOC, Abu Dhabi’s oil company. In particular comments he made indictating that the evidence against fossil fuels for global warming came under fire- here was his response: “ I am surprised at attempts to undermine cop28, we are guided by science “ – UAE CoP President Sultan Al Jaber
  5. India didn’t sign the Green Pledge, and Climate Health pledge- saying Climate justice was the most important principle 

Earlier I spoke to The Hindu’s Deputy Science Editor Jacob Koshy in Dubai about some of the questions raised over the summit:  

WV Take: It doesn’t need 77,000 delegates to fly to a conference in West Asia to study whether the world is on track with the goals they established at the CoP 21 in Paris in 2016- it should be fairly clear that the world has failed to ensure goals on mitigation of greenhouse gases, keeping global warming in check and on climate change adaptation. While India has done better than many, especially given its large population, it has not broadened the scope to tackle climate change at a regional level – across South Asia, one of the world’s most climate vulnerable areas- and this is where it needs more focus.

WV Reading Recommendations: 

  1. 3 books by Amitav Ghosh right at the top of my list: The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis and the Living Mountain 
  2. 2. Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan to reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken, who wrote Regeneration: Ending the climate crisis in one Generation 
  3. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate is Naomi Klein’s classic from 2014, but also followed up by On Fire: The Burning Case for a new green deal and All We can Save: 
  4. The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future David Wallace-Wells an acclaimed well book- also recommended by Jacob Koshy 
  5. The Earth Transformed: An Untold History by Peter Frankopan- who looks at the historical evidence of climate change- he is the author of The Silk Roads and the New Silk Roads, so the book does have a lot on China 
  6. The Next New : Navigating the Fifth Industrial Revolution by Pranjal Sharma, that has a chapter on Green Energy in India worth reading 
  7. The Climate Solution : India’s Climate Change Crisis and what we can do about it by Mridula Ramesh 
  8. Environmentalism : A Global History by Ramachandra Guha – on India’s environmental traditions 
  9. India in a Warming World: Integrating Climate Change and Development Edited by Navroz K. Dubash 

Script and Presentation: Suhasini Haidar

Production: Gayatri Menon and Shibu Narayan

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